Mikola Baltajy, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to Bulgaria:
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Your Excellency, what is your vision for the interaction of Ukraine with the EU in the implementation of pan-European projects, such as the Danube strategy and the Black Sea region development?
The Danube River serves as a bridge uniting around countries and people. The river marks a region for cooperation. The EU strategy for the Danube region should serve as a tool that enhances this interaction.
In our view, to reveal its fullest economic, social and cultural potential, to preserve the environment, the Danube region should be considered as a single European region, experiencing a new phase of its development. Such a position matches the Danube strategy, one of the most important aspects of which is protection of the environment, in particular ensuring the quality of water, biodiversity conservation, prevention of floods and droughts and water resources management.
I would like to emphasize our position that the process of preparation and further implementation of the strategy measures must take place taking into account the interests and views of all countries in the Danube region and particularly countries that are not currently incorporated in the EU. It is nice that Bulgaria shares this approach and signals its readiness to intensify its cooperation with Ukraine, including projects in the field of security and fight against organized crime as well as projects related to the development of culture and tourism.
As regards to the development of the Black Sea region and the interaction between our countries within the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), Ukraine and Bulgaria consider that to date particular attention should be paid to strengthening the cooperation between BSEC and EU, as this will significantly contribute to the realization of joint projects and initiatives.
How would you define Bulgarian-Ukrainian cooperation?
For the past twenty years our relations have gone through different stages of development – from establishment and institutionalization to their filling with concrete pragmatic contents which we believe is an essential feature of the present stage. The main efforts of our countries focus on the development of mutually beneficial partnership in key sectors as economy and energy.
But it would be wrong to believe that the future belongs only to new forms of collaboration and cooperation. We should not underestimate the need for the resumption of contacts between Ukrainian and Bulgarian businesses, companies and firms that existed earlier. In pursuit of economic reforms increasingly important is learning the experience of Bulgaria. That is the point of numerous delegations of government and institutional level coming here, exchanging information with Bulgarian experts for implementation of the administrative reform, pensions, legislation on access to public information, use of drugs, etc.
In what direction is the interest of your countrymen to Bulgaria?
When travelling I realize how beautiful nature is and what picturesque views your country has, how rich is your history. This is also shared by my countrymen for whom Bulgaria is associated with relaxation. Last year more than 250 thousand Ukrainian tourists were here. They are more interested not only in the traditional recreation but also in cultural, historical, religious and wine tourism.
I really would like Bulgaria to become even closer to the Ukrainians who could discover for themselves the uniqueness and beauty of your country.